Universiteit Leiden

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Michiel van Groesen

Professor Maritime History

Prof.dr. M. van Groesen
+31 71 527 2765

The chair in Maritime History is established at Leiden’s Institute for History since 1978. In close cooperation with maritime heritage institutions in the Netherlands, most importantly Het Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam and the Maritime Museum Rotterdam, scholars in Leiden challenge students to ask new questions and find new answers for global and local developments in maritime history. For more information about the MA-programme in Maritime History, click here.


My interest in maritime history is embedded in the culture of the early modern Dutch Republic and the Atlantic world. Broadly speaking my research is interdisciplinary in nature, focusing on the culture of imperial expansion and the politics of global interactions. My current book project, provisionally entitled An Ocean of Rumours: News and Information in the Atlantic World, explores the circulation of transoceanic news, focusing on the tension between distance and credibility in the early modern world. The book is under contract with Cambridge University Press.

In prior research I examined early modern printed travel accounts, more specifically the monumental De Bry collection of voyages that disseminated very influential textual and visual images of the non-European world. I argued that the De Brys manipulated the original accounts for a confessionally divided readership. The German editions were aimed at a Protestant audience, the Latin translations were sold in Catholic Europe. Both versions - despite their differences - helped to legitimate European colonialism in the next two centuries.

Since then I have worked on the rise and fall of Dutch Brazil as seen through the eyes of the Amsterdam print media. In 2014 I edited a volume of essays entitled The Legacy of Dutch Brazil (Cambridge), which discusses the impact the short-lived colony had on the Atlantic world from the seventeenth century until today. My second book, Amsterdam's Atlantic, came out with Penn Press in 2017. Using newspapers, prints, maps, paintings, pamphlets, and diaries, I demonstrate that Dutch Brazil transformed (and was transformed by) the early modern media landscape at home, and marked the emergence of a 'public' Atlantic world.

Curriculum vitae

2019 Visiting Fellow, Princeton University

2014 - 2019 NWO-Vidi Research Fellow

2013 Queen Wilhelmina Visiting Professor, Columbia University in New York 

2011 Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London 

2008 - 2015 Assistant/Associate Professor of Early Modern History, University of Amsterdam 

2008 - 2012 NWO-Veni Research Fellow

Key Publications


Amsterdam's Atlantic: Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)
ed. The Legacy of Dutch Brazil (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
The Representations of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages, 1590-1634 (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2008; pbk, 2012)

Professor Maritime History

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Nederlandse geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.61


No relevant ancillary activities

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